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Power plants auction drags on

November 28th, 2012

The mere mention of the word “Dynegy” has everyone with a vested interest perched on the edge of their seats today, anxiously awaiting the results of a pending auction of the company’s Roseton and Danskammer power plants in the town of Newburgh.

The auction was originally scheduled to be conducted on Monday, Nov. 17 in the Manhattan offices of Dynegy’s attorneys but was pushed back to Nov. 26. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there was no word of who the winning bidder might be – or even how many bidders had entered the competition.

Dynegy officials said Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent storm pushed back the date of the bid award. Katy Sullivan, director of public relations for Dynegy, said last week that negotiations for the sale are ongoing.

Those with the aforementioned “vested interest” would include property owners in the Marlboro School District and the Town of Newburgh, the more than 150 employees of the two power plants, school district and town officials who will likely have to make major adjustments to their 2013 (and future) budgets.

John Kaiser, president and business manager of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 320 said late Tuesday afternoon that bids were still being evaluated. “They haven’t picked a buyer yet,” he said.

Local 320 represents 114 workers who went on strike Nov. 8 after contract negotiations with Dynegy broke down. Kaiser said earlier that IBEW 320 has been in negotiations with Dynegy since November 2011.

“This auction will impact a lot of workers and the whole Hudson Valley,” Kaiser said Tuesday. “We’re really anticipating the outcome of the auction and looking forward to working with the buyer,” Kaiser said.

Town of Newburgh Supervisor Wayne Booth was another person anxiously awaiting news of the auction. Dynegy failed to pay $7.2 million in property taxes to Orange County, the town of Newburgh and several special highway, water and fire districts in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Booth negotiated a settlement with Dynegy four years ago to avoid what he believed could be a disastrous outcome of a certiorari suit over the property assessment for the two power plants in the town of Newburgh.

The town of Newburgh paid Dynegy $3.4 million to resolve all litigation. That $3.4 million covered all liability for the town’s general fund, highway fund, two consolidated water districts and the Middlehope Fire District. The Marlboro School District settled separately for $11 million and Orange County made its own arrangement.

That settlement supposedly guaranteed the town of Newburgh and the other special districts a set amount each year for five years based on an $895 million assessment figure. Dynegy declared bankruptcy, tossing the agreement into the bankruptcy courts.

Dynegy owes the Marlboro School District $17.2 million in unpaid back property taxes, but officials said while the company doesn’t dispute that it owes the taxes, it must go through the bankruptcy process before determining the outcome of the case. A bankruptcy judge in Poughkeepsie will have the final say.

Ray Castellani, superintendent of the Marlboro School District, was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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